Study Guide

Goldfinger

Goldfinger Introduction


Release Year: 1964

Genre: Action, Adventure

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writer: Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn

Stars: Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Gert Fröbe


King Midas is a classic fairytale character who turned everything he touched into gold. We're still not sure how he went to the bathroom. Although the character Goldfinger is referred to as "the man with the Midas touch," this classic villain is more of a reverse Midas—he melts gold down and sells it for wealth.

While King Midas was allowed to run around unchecked turning everything into gold—apples, trees, his teeth (Midas popularized the gold grille)—Goldfinger must face off against that international man of mystery, James Bond, in Bond's third film, the 1964 blockbuster Goldfinger.

Based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name, Goldfinger saw the striking Scotsman Sean Connery slip into Bond's tux for the third time. In this film, Bond chases Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) across the globe, through a variety of exotic locales, like Miami Beach, Geneva, and, um, Kentucky. Along the way, Bond gets, shall we say, distracted by a variety of bodacious bombshells, including the Bond Girl with the Bond Girliest name of them all: Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman).

Although this is Connery's third outing as Bond, the film featured a new director, Guy Hamilton, who replaced Terence Young, director of Bond's first two adventures. Hamilton had a tough mission—to keep Bond thrilling, exciting, and relevant. He did this by pushing the envelope, and by "pushing the envelope," we mean having scantily clad women push an envelope through lasers, nukes, and a car with more weapons on board than your average Mario Kart.

This deliciously weird film is topped with a musical cherry, the theme song "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey, a grand dame who covered Pink's "Get This Party Started" at age seventy. Considering her song opens Goldfinger with a bang, she most definitely knows how to get a party started.

Hamilton's high-octane mix of sex, danger, and a killer song was a hit with audiences worldwide. When adjusted for inflation, Goldfinger is the third-highest grossing film in the franchise's 50+ year history. It set the stage for the sequel, Thunderball, also starring Connery. And although Guy Hamilton would take a break, he would later return for three more Bond flicks—Diamonds are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Goldfinger is an over-the-top action-adventure concoction that could only have existed in the swinging sixties. Watching it is like taking a time machine to the past, when love was free, lasers were brand-new technology, and it was okay for women to be named Pussy. And with today's gadgets that Bond could never dream of—like DVDs and online streaming—you can watch it whenever you want.

  

What is Goldfinger About and Why Should I Care?

With the first child, parents are often very strict. With the second child, they're often a little laxer in their parenting. By the time they have a third, they'll let their baby eat dirt and crawl around on the floor of the house with a fork in its mouth.

Goldfinger is basically the third child of the Bond franchise. Not only that, but it's the first by a new director, Guy Hamilton. That's like letting your third child be raised by the nanny, and for that nanny to basically be Mary Poppins. Where are we going with this ridiculous analogy? Basically, what little reins were on the Bond franchise in its first two films are totally let loose by this installment.

For better or worse, Goldfinger throws logic to the wind. It has plot holes you could fly Goldfinger's helicopter through sideways, but it also has deathly decapitating hats and Pussy's Flying Circus, so who cares? Goldfinger defined Bond as a visceral, not a mental, experience.

Even though this is the third Bond, it cements what the franchise would be known for over the next 50+ years: crazy villains, wild gadgets, and women with ridiculous names. Without Goldfinger, there would be no Blofeld. Without the Aston Martin, there would be no iceberg-shaped boat. (Maybe it would be better not to have that?) Without Pussy Galore, we'd have no Christmas Jones. (Hmm, maybe another good thing to do without?)

The 1960s have a reputation for being filled with free love and uncontrolled substances, but that decade was, in fact, pretty tumultuous, a time when people fought against wars and for Civil Rights. Bond gave people the opportunity to escape, and Goldfinger was the perfect escapist vehicle—a gold-plated one. So stop thinking about why you should care and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Trivia

If the guy in the opening gun barrel sequence looks a little on the short side, that's because it isn't Sean Connery firing his pistol at your face. In the classic intro, Bond is portrayed by Connery's stuntman, Bob Simmons. Does this mean that Connery isn't the official first Bond? (Source)

What was the secret to hitting the high note at the end of the "Goldfinger" theme? Shirley Bassey went braless to give her lungs maximum capacity to hold the note for as long as possible. Hey, it was the 1960s. (Source)

Goldfinger was briefly banned in Israel for being waaay un-kosher. Before the film's release, it was revealed that Gert Fröbe, who plays Goldfinger, was in the Nazi Party during World War II. Fröbe's reputation was ruined. However, a Jewish man named Mario Blumenau said that Fröbe, despite being a Nazi, hid him and his mother inside his house. Fröbe was then revered as a hero, and Goldfinger was unbanned. (Source)

Cartoons could be based on anything in the 90s—gargoyles, Jim Carrey movies, the childhood of Howie Mandel. So it's no surprise that even James Bond spawned an after-school cartoon, James Bond Jr., starring Bond's nephew—who has the same name? The animated series lifted Goldfinger and Oddjob from Goldfinger, and gave Goldfinger a daughter, the weirdly named Goldie Finger. Hey, it was still better than Quantum of Solace. (Source)

Bond's masseuse, Dink, who makes a brief appearance in Miami Beach, is in the movie for much longer, although you might not realize it. Margaret Nolan, who played the handsy dame, is also the golden girl in the film's title sequence. They painted her gold, yet somehow she still made it out alive. (Source)

Even Bond gets workman's compensation. Connery was allegedly injured by Harold Sakata (Oddjob) during their climactic fight in the gold vault. After he was thrown against the wall, Connery said his back was injured. He refused to return as Bond unless he was given a raise. His wish was granted. Can Sakata come throw us against the wall? It's a risk we're willing to take for five million bucks. (Source)

Honor Blackman got to show off her Judo skills as Pussy Galore, a role that made her an international star. She used her renown to publish a book called Honor Blackman's Book of Self-Defense. It has a subtitle that states the actress will teach us "Defense Galore." (Source)

Goldfinger Resources

WEBSITES

In His Sights
The official Bond website focused on Pussy Galore in Dec 2016.

Debriefing
Get more information than you can shake a goldfinger at from MI6, one of the largest Bond fansites.

BOOK OR TV ADAPTATIONS

Golden Pages
You'll have to go undercover—or at least between the covers of the book—to find out the differences between the novel and film versions of Auric Goldfinger.

ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS

Before Bond
In this profile of Sean Connery, we learn about the odd jobs he had before becoming a spy, like cement mixer and coffin polisher. Yes, coffin polisher.

Long Live the Queens
Bond Girls have a short life expectancy on film, but a long one in real life. Three Bond girls reunited fifty years later, including Tania Mallet, who played Tilly Masterson (who lasted about ten minutes in this movie).

Girls on Film
Critic Zina Hutton evaluates every single Bond film, focusing on how social mores differ now from fifty years ago.

VIDEO

An Odd(job) Audition
How many roles do you think require an actor to break wood panels with his feet during the audition process?

Encore, Encore
Fifty years later, Shirley Bassey is still solid gold.

Timing is Everything
Forget location location location. Connery believes that Bond's success is all in its timing timing timing.

AUDIO

Ranking the Tunes
We can't all be spies, but we can all have opinions on what the best Bond songs are.

Compare and Contrast
"Goldfinger" is the gold standard by which all other Bond songs are measured.

Golden Earworm
Any time is a good time to listen to the Goldfinger theme.

IMAGE

The Midas Touch
This poster features one unflattering image of Sean Connery (yes, they exist) and one killer tagline.

Stay Gold
We hope model Elle Evans survived being painted gold for this recreation of the golden girl scene.